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Group: China Torturing Tibetans

September 8, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese police have jailed, tortured and harassed Tibetans in areas outside Tibet who are opposed to China’s rule of their Himalayan homeland, a human rights group said Tuesday.

Tibetans have been punished for putting up posters calling for China to leave Tibet and for sending letters of support to prisoners, Human Rights Watch said in a report based on interviews with refugees who fled to India.

More than half of China’s ethnic Tibetans live in provinces adjacent to Tibet itself _ Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan and Qinghai. ``Arrests of local activists in these eastern Tibetan regions deserve the same scrutiny and the same condemnation,″ said Sidney Jones, Asia director for the New York-based advocacy group.

The report cited five Tibetans who had been detained for criticizing China’s control of Tibet. In most cases, they were tortured, though police sometimes used gentler treatment in hopes of recruiting informants, the report said. Upon their release from prison, the men were denied jobs and harassed, and eventually moved to India.

Dolkar Kyap, a student who put up posters advocating Tibetan independence, was chained by his wrists to ceiling pipes by police in Gansu province, the report said. It said they told him that if he did not confess, he would be ``beaten and forced to tell the truth like we squeeze out toothpaste.″

Badzra Trinley, a Buddhist monk, was detained in 1994 in Gansu, the report said. He was beaten and shocked with cattle prods, made to strip and doused repeatedly with ice water in midwinter.

Tension in ethnic Tibetan areas drew attention last month when two foreign researchers, an American and an Australian, were detained in Qinghai, near the site of a controversial World Bank project to resettle Chinese farmers in a traditionally Tibetan and Mongolian area. The researchers’ ethnic Tibetan translator, a Chinese citizen, also was detained.

The researchers were deported after protests by the Australian and U.S. governments. The American suffered severe injuries when he fell or jumped _ the circumstances remain unclear _ from a third floor window while in police custody. The fate of the translator is unknown.

The regions cited in the report were brought under Chinese control by the end of the 18th century. Tibet itself remained largely independent until Chinese troops invaded in 1950.

Human Rights Watch said it has no position on Tibet’s political status but supports the right of Tibetans to express pro-independence sentiments peacefully.

``Tibetans involved in political activities face arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention and trials that ignore all standards of openness and fairness,″ the report said. ``Torture of detainees after arrest is common, and conditions in both detention centers and prisons are said to be poor in terms of food, medical treatment, sanitation and working conditions.″

Police would not immediately comment on the allegations.

China’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech and other civil liberties, but dissidents are routinely jailed, often sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Tibetans have chafed under China’s often severe rule. They revere the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. He fled in the midst of a failed anti-Chinese uprising in 1959 but remains popular despite efforts by Chinese authorities to discredit him.

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